Often, people diagnosed with basal or squamous cell skin cancer are cured with treatment. There are a variety of treatment options for skin cancer. These options depend on several factors such as the size of the cancer, its location on your body, and your diagnosis results.
If you are diagnosed with basal or squamous cell skin cancer, the next step is to find a cure and a treatment plan. Your doctor will discuss these treatment options with you. It’s important that you consider carefully about available choices. You must compare the benefits of each treatment option against its possible risks and short-term and long-term side effects.
Which Treatments are used for Basal and Squamous cell Skin Cancers?
Your treatment options may vary based on the type and stage of the cancer and other factors. These options may include such as:
- Radiation therapy
- Anti-cancer creams
Surgical excision is an operation used to cut and remove the cancer surgically along with nearby healthy tissue to ensure the cancer is completely removed. In most cases, surgery cures non-melanoma (Basal and Squamous cell) skin cancer.
It involves use of cold treatment to remove the cancer of skin. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the cancer causing the area to scab over. In about a month’s time, the scab containing the cancer falls off the skin. A small white scar though may remain on the skin.
Creams are applied to the affected area for a few weeks. Imiquimod cream is used to treat basal cell carcinomas with a diameter of less than 2cm. It encourages the immune system to attack the cancer in the skin and is used over a number of weeks. Certain side effects such as peeling of the skin, itching, etc may appear.
It involves using low doses of radiations to damage the cancer. Radiation therapy is used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma if:
- surgery is not appropriate
- the cancer spreads a large area
- it is difficult to operate the area
Sometimes, it may be used along with the surgery to try to prevent the cancer coming back.
Electrochemotherapy is a suitable treatment option for non-melanoma skin cancer of surgical excision is not suitable or does not improve the condition and if radiotherapy and chemotherapy also did not work.
It involves providing chemotherapy into the tumour or into a vein. Powerful pulses of electricity are directed to the tumour through electrodes. Electrical pulses causes the medicine to enter the cells of the tumor and cause more damage to the tumour. Generally, the procedure is carried out using general anaesthetic.
Which Doctors/Specialist Should You Contact to Treat Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers?
It is likely that your treatment plan is implemented by different types of doctors. Most basal and squamous cell cancers are treated by dermatologists. These are specialists who specialize in treating skin diseases. If the cancer has advanced, you may be treated by another type of doctor. The treatment team may include such as:
- dermatologist – skin specialist
- surgical oncologist – he is a doctor who treats with surgery
- medical oncologist – he is a doctor who treats with chemotherapy or other medicines
- radiation oncologist – he is a doctor who treats with radiation therapy
How to Decide About the Treatment Option?
It is very important that you discuss the possible treatment options with your doctor. You should compare the objectives, benefits, and their possible side effects. Your goal is to decide the best treatment plan for your needs with your doctor. Few important things that you should consider while discussing with your doctor are:
- type of your skin cancer
- location of your skin cancer
- your overall health
- chances that a particular treatment will cure the disease
- side effects of the treatment such as scars, post-treatment appearance, your experience, pain, allergies etc
- whether the treatment is suitable for your age
If you are not fully satisfied with the discussion with your doctor, you may consider getting a second opinion. This gives you more information and helps you feel more confident about the plan that you ultimately will choose.